Erin Barnes is a green gal next door. What is a green gal, you might ask? She is someone who is simply an ordinary woman who is creating much needed change in the world. This green gal rolled up her sleeves and set out to change the world one block at a time. How so? Barnes is the co- founder and executive director of ioby, a local fundraising platform where local projects are funded by neighbors. But it isn’t just about the project. It is about bringing neighbors together.
Ioby stands for “in our backyard ” currently based in NYC. However, if Barnes has her way, the concept will go national. If you listen to Barnes during her 6 minute video interview, you have no doubt that ioby projects will start sprouting up all over the country. (Listen to the podcast by clicking here.)
“[w]e know people care about the environment, but their most prominent option is to purchase something. Buying a table or a new light bulb leaves a lot of people thinking, ‘Now what?’ They are hungry to get their hands dirty,” says Barnes.
Partners Cassie Flynn, Brandon Whitney, and Barnes who met in Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies saw the need for local impact in changing the world. Hence, ioby was born as a place where local funders and people who seek change in their neighborhood meet.
“ ioby connects change with resources. It enables all of us to invest in change—then see (and live with) the return on our investment. These pages aren’t glamorous. There are no celebrities, no large-scale protests. There are everyday neighbors taking small steps—bringing sunlight, open space, fresh food and greenery into our backyards.”
Although there are matching funds donations, the majority of the projects are funded by local $10 and $20 donations. Thus far, the Company has brought together funders and 86 projects in which $132,000 was raised. The average donor lives two miles from the projects.
If you or your company wishes to donate, pick a project here.
How Does ioby work?
Have a project? First check out to see if you meet the Companies’ criteria. Then post your idea. ioby adds 8% to the budget for administrative costs such as credit card fees and postage. Then the fun begins for project teams to solicit funds. The beauty of the projects is that it brings neighbors together whether funding or getting their hands dirty.
Learn more about their 2011 heroes here. Listed below are a few examples:
“In 2009, Stacey and Bee wanted to start a decentralized project where underutilized snippets of backyards, rooftops, community gardens, school grounds, and other open space could be converted into places for food production. With Molly and Martha they produce vegetables, eggs, flowers and new farmers and chicken apprentices!” (pictured above.)
“In the 1970’s the Bronx burned. In the 1980’s the Bronx became the birthplace of break dance, rap and hip-hop. In 1996 Troy Lancaster arrived to take out the trash. If you know Troy you know that chatting for a while and getting trees are just some of his many special talents. With a big empty lot cleaned and tree planted, the birds started to arrive. Troy worked with neighborhood and planted more trees, plants and flowers. More migrating birds flew by. Each year the Dred Scott Bird Sanctuary uses approximately 900 lbs of bird seed to help and encourage the migrating flocks while educating neighborhood residents. Troy is currently looking for donations for his ioby project.”
I asked Barnes what advice could she give to others. She said ask for help when forming your organization. The NY environmental community was extremely collaborative. After I learned what Barnes did, I replied via email that it must feel amazing to get up in the morning. And she replied that she has a good life. Yes, she created it not only for her but others.
Join the Conversation:
- How do you feel about ioby? Do you see a need in your neighborhood?
- What’s your take away about what Barnes accomplished
- Does she inspire you?
- What characteristics inspire you?